Posts Tagged ‘FAR+Soup+Kitchens’

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[Dispatches from Armenia]: Nor Hatjn’s Kitchen.

July 30, 2010

Just outside Yerevan, lies the town of Nor Hatjn. The other day, three of us – Arto, FAR’s program director, Rafik, director of FAR’s soup kitchens, and myself – paid a visit. During the YPT trip we visited the Gyumri soup kitchen, so I sort of had an idea. Financed by the Bay Area Friends of Armenia and carried out by FAR, five different kitchens provide a full lunch to recipients every day in different parts of the country. Most of FAR’s kitchens, like Gyumri’s for instance, serve the elderly – former doctors, professors, teachers, and scientists whose pensions barely cover basic living costs. Nor Hatjn’s kitchen is a little different. The recipients are families, primarily refugees from the war with Azerbajian who have settled and raised their children here.
 
This is a town where there is literally no job opportunity – the two factories, one diamond cutting, the other for car parts, closed down awhile ago and there’s not much else going on in terms of commerce. Most residents live in subsidized housing and 200 people come to the soup kitchen for their meat, lavash, and fruit every single day.

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Credit: FAR Staff

 
Sure enough, we were surrounded by what seemed like dozens of exuberant children once we walked into the room. They weren’t shy about practicing their English as we circled around the room and bantered back and forth. My camera was a hit — as I knew it would be — and I handed it over to them so they could snap group shots and family pictures.
 
The terrazzo floor and old chandeliers hanging were the only signs of this building’s former glory. Paint peels off the walls; water drips constantly from the pipes in the kitchen. And every single day the water is shut off. The owner of the building is bankrupt, doesn’t pay the water bill, so every single day the managers must fight to have it turned back on so they can prepare this necessary meal. It’s a constant, unsustainable battle.

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Credit: FAR Staff

 
The option would be to buy the building and renovate it, which would cost about $100,000. BAFA is working on fundraising for these efforts now, but of course there’s a long way to go. The other option would be to leave this building and re-open the kitchen somewhere else. But what would the people of Nor Hatjn do? Traveling to another town altogether just to eat would be a hardship, especially in winter. Plus, many depend on leftovers to feed them for the rest of the day. This is a place where their families gather, where their children play, and where they aren’t afraid to complain when the menu changes. They’d most likely lose their primary source of sustenance, and as it seemed to me, their center of community. I truly hope that does not happen. Despite the obstacles, FAR staff still makes this soup kitchen possible, and there’s no doubt that they will continue, but here’s hoping for things to be even better someday.

Erin –

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Credit: FAR Staff

 

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[FAR Soup Kitchens]: Nor Hatjn English Students Make Final Presentations.

July 30, 2010

After completing eight months of English classes, students from Nor Hatjn gathered at the English Department of the American University of Armenia to make their final presentations and demonstrate their progress. Classes were sponsored by the Bay Area Friends of Armenia (BAFA).

Students presented their power point entitled Famous People, which they had prepared with the help of their computer teacher. Afterwards some of the students presented their individual portfolios and they closed with the song Imagine . This joint effort of the students and their teacher Gayane Manukyan proved to be a successful outcome of hard work.

American University’s Associate Dean Dr. Farhady, Experimental English Classes Program Director Rubina Gasparyan, instructors Melissa Brown and Lilana Edilyan, FAR Soup Kitchens Coordinator Rafik Martirosyan, along with several parents, teachers, and students from Nor Hatjn attended.

Nor Hatjn English students receive certificates 

Nor Hajn English Classes

Credit: FAR Staff